My most-played album of the year was Midlake's gorgeous paean to solitude, rusticity and the ways of the past. Soaring harmonies, ringing guitars and haunting flutes combined to evoke the sombre mood of Tarkovsky's film about Russian icon painter Andrei Rublev.
Richard Evans has designed albums for a huge range of musicians, from Abba's Agnetha to The Who. Here, he celebrates great sleeve art through the ages
The summer's gone – and everything's suddenly coming back to life. Michael Bywater writes in praise of our most glorious time of year
The Grade I-listed One Mayfair was built in the early 19th century as St Mark's Church, to service the needs of an aristocratic clientele away from their country seats. Restored following its deconsecration in the Seventies, it makes the perfect venue for a secret gig by one of today's rock aristocracy, Robert Plant CBE, up in London from his Worcestershire home to launch his first album with his new group Band of Joy.
The documentary It Might Get Loud brings together a trio of guitar heroes and marks Jimmy Page's first return to action since Led Zeppelin's reunion show in 2007. James McNair meets the axeman
After more than two years off the radio airwaves, following a nervous breakdown and family disintegration, the award-winning presenter Andy Kershaw has confirmed that he is to make a comeback to BBC Radio 3.
United's long-overlooked playmaker tells Ian Herbert why he is finally in the spotlight
Garlanded with praise from the likes of Emmylou Harris and Don Was ("This might be the best record I've ever heard"), Written in Chalk has the nobility of old-time country music, but with a post-modern appreciation of blues, jazz and the innovations of artists such as Tom Waits and Robert Plant.
After 14 years of rumours and false starts, Guns N'Roses are promising to release their new album. There's even a ticking clock on their website. Oh well; heavy metal bands never did like to rush things, says Andy Gill
Arctic Monkey's frontman, Alex Turner has been nominated for a third successive year
Despite the competing claims of such as Mark Ronson and Brian (Danger Mouse) Burton, T Bone Burnett may be the most interesting producer working in popular music at the moment. Equally comfortable helming award-winning soundtracks for Cold Mountain, O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Walk the Line, and reacquainting singers like Tony Bennett, Roy Orbison, Cassandra Wilson and kd lang with their roots, his manifold talents combined to powerful effect on last year's peerless Raising Sand collaboration between Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. But until 2006's The True False Identity, his packed diary left Burnett little time to pursue his own muse.